Last night, we had the normal Wednesday night group ride. The group ride has neutral sections (both for traffic avoidance and for recovery) and “open” sections that are full-on hammerfests. Top speeds in the ride last night exceeded 30mph, on flat roads. There are some serious motors in the group.
For those familiar with the area, around mile 23, we turn left on University and head North. After we cross Perry Road, it’s “open”. I had set a goal of going off the front, and holding off the group until we reached one of the big microwave towers along the way. As we crossed Perry, I eased to the front and started slowly upping my cadence as the group formed. I knew if I stood and hammered, someone would immediately jump on. So I just eased out, until I was perhaps 75 yards in front of the group, and then (remaining in the saddle) started really pushing. This was riding without any wind assistance, and even at that point in the ride, I was able to push it up to 24 and hold it by myself.
That’s huge. It may be unimpressive for many riders, but for me, that’s huge.
I held my lead to the tower, and beyond, and was quite pleased with my ride.
Later, when we were running back into town on Fairview, the pace jumped up again. We were running along at over 27, when 2 of the guys jumped up and sprinted. I was next to Tobie, and he said, “don’t let them get away.” I responded with what I thought was the truth: “I’m at my max. This is all I’ve got.” Tobie stood up and went, and in that first fraction of a second, his bike shot ahead so that he was about half of a bike length in front of me. In that millisecond, I could feel my legs screaming and my lungs burning. I didn’t have anything more to give. But I didn’t want to get dropped. So somewhere, somehow, I pulled together just a bit more, and clung to Tobie’s wheel, rejoining the lead group.
I still got dropped in the last mile. That’s ok–and beside the point.
The point is that I am perpetually amazed by the depth of capacity of the human body. My body was saying that I was all-in, and yet somehow, I found just a little bit more to hang onto the group. I don’t come from a huge sporting/athletic background. My experience with fatigue and exertion comes from a lifetime of manual labor…on the farm, as a carpenter, etc. This “exertion for sport” thing is still new to me, and as I learn new lessons about my abilities, I still have a sense of awe.
In the end, I don’t know if I gave it “all I’ve got.” I don’t yet know what my “all” is. But man, it’s really fun to be learning.